As hinted upon earlier and demonstrated in several studies, most notably [ 14 - 19 ], food taboos frequently seem to have an ecological background, which according to Harris [ 7 ] is based on utilitarian principles.

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On the one hand, they may lead to a fuller utilization of a resource and on the other they can lead to its protection. If North West American Inuit and Nootka Indians both hunt and eat the whale, it makes good ecological sense when the Tlingit Indians of the same region regard the giant sea mammal as taboo and look for food on land [ 65 ]. Some ecological consequence can also be ascribed to the custom amongst the Ka'aor Indians of the northern Maranhao Brazil of allowing only menstruating women, pubescent girls, and parents of newborns to consume the meat of tortoises [ 66 ] and the fact that amongst the indigenous people of Ratanakiri Cambodia different food taboos operate even between neighbouring villages [ 67 ].

In the same vein, if women and children, as in the Orang Asli, eat only small animals while older people also consume bigger species, a measure like this would distribute ecological pressure more evenly across a greater number of consumable species. This can lead to a situation, in which females are only permitted plants and insects as food, while the menfolk are free to ingest meat, egg, and fish [ 7 ].

The regulations amongst the Canadian Netsilik [ 68 ] that sea-mammal and terrestrial mammal must never be eaten on the same day and amongst Jews that milk and milk-containing foods cannot be consumed together with meat, have an ecological ring. Clearly, sustainability of a resource is served by the taboo not to eat the young and its parent and by the Hindu custom of not totally finishing a plate, so that there is always some plant material left over for Nature e.

To safeguard a resource for a time of crisis may be the reason, why certain fishes of the Amazon are not normally eaten, but spared [ 69 ]. Declaring a food item taboo for one section of the population, can of course, lead to a monopoly of the food in question by the remainder of the population [ 7 ]. For purely egoistic reasons men may declare meat and other, to them, delicacies taboo "for others". That this is the main reason for some food taboos affecting mainly women and children, is suspected by [ 30 ].

Traditional healers in Nigeria sometimes attribute childhood ailments to breaking the food norms [ 70 ] and in Senegal women and children, but not men, must avoid poultry products.

Islamic Rules About Eating and Drinking

That this can lead to a shortage of adequate supplies of essential nutrients especially in the most vulnerable group of the rural population is self-understood [ 71 ]. The fact that in many societies alcohol-drinking women are poorly respected while for men alcohol consumption is regarded as normal , in essence, seems little different from the Australian aboriginal practice that native honey a rare and sweet delicacy is seen as something fit only for the old and wise men.

Amongst the Bolivian Siriono, there are "hundreds of food taboos", but they apply only very loosely to the elderly, who can break the taboos. This ensures their welfare and survival when no longer able to hunt for the 'right food' [ 72 ]. Empathy, i. In many societies, pet animals enjoy a greater degree of protection and are more likely to be given "taboo" status than individuals that are unfamiliar and "unrelated".

It is almost as if "humanness" rubs off and the pet becomes regarded as an "honorary human". Hindu religious thought with its belief of re-incarnation even goes a step further and basically does not distinguish between human and animal with regard to their souls — only the packaging is seen to differ. It follows that by eating an animal, a Hindu could indeed, to put it bluntly, be eating a deceased relative.

Dietary Laws of the Jewish Religion Essay

And that -with few exceptions where endocannibalism was the accepted practice and parts of a human corpse were ritually consumed as in certain tribes of Papua Niugini- is almost everywhere a taboo [ 73 - 75 ]. Finally, it ought to be mentioned that any food taboo, acknowledged by a particular group of people as part of its ways, aids in the cohesion of this group, helps that group stand out amongst others, assists that group to maintain its identity and creates a feeling of "belonging".

Thus, food taboos can strengthen the confidence of a group by functioning as a demonstration of the uniqueness of the group in the face of others. Food taboos and food habits can persist for a very long time and can be and have been made use of in identifying cultural and historical relationships between human populations [ 76 , 77 ]. It has, for instance, been suggested that the food taboos of both Jews and Hindus reflect not the nutritional needs, but the explicit concerns of the pastoral peoples' that they once were [ 78 ].

In our increasingly international world, it is essential that we know and understand food taboos of societies other than and in addition to our own.


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In a world, in which many persons still go hungry, it is important to realize that numerous societies impose restrictions on what is acceptable as food and that in most cases the full food potential of a given environment is not being made use of. Food restrictions can affect the nutritional status of a community or a subsection within it. There may be sound reasons for prohibiting certain food items as we have demonstrated in this paper, but declaring some food items taboo can equally well be a form of suppression by a more dominant sector of the society. To explore the operating food taboos from historic, hygienic, and social perspectives must be the aim of any study that deals with the problem of community food culture [ 10 , 14 , 79 , 80 ].

In the words of Drewnowski and Levine [ 80 ]: "There is a need for further discussions of the economics of food choice". The single author of this paper VBM-R is responsible for every aspect of the research, the conclusions, and the writing of the paper. The author wishes to thank his companions, helpers, guides, and informants in the field as well as Dr.


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  8. Sulochana D. Moro for expert information on Hinduism and Indian food taboos. Jacobs University Bremen kindly allowed the author time off from teaching for two brief research visits to Papua New Guinea in and National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Journal List J Ethnobiol Ethnomed v.

    J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. Published online Jun Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow 1, 2. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Corresponding author. Victor Benno Meyer-Rochow: ed. Received Dec 4; Accepted Jun This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

    Jesus Kept Kosher: The Jewish Christ of the Gospel of Mark | Tikkun

    Abstract Food taboos are known from virtually all human societies. Background Years ago a student asked me the following question: "Why don't all animals eat the same kinds of food? Methods Based on the authors own experience, observations, recordings, and interactions with locals, examples of Jewish dietary laws and Hindu practices form the basis of examples 4 and 5. Results Example 1: The Orang Asli food taboos The term 'Orang Asli' describes a variety of aboriginal tribes, nowadays confined to the forests and forest fringes of West Malaysia.

    Example 3: Food taboos in Mid-West Nigeria The continent of Africa, because of its size, presents an enormous variety of food taboos. Example 4: The Hindu food taboos The Hindu food taboos were chosen as example nr. Example 5: The Jewish dietary laws Jewish dietary laws, containing some of the sentiments found also in the Hindu food taboos, have been chosen to illustrate how food taboos with origins steeped in religion, promotion of health, and protection of life combine to create a set of rules that foremost and for all unite a people and create group-cohesion.

    Discussion General remarks Different workers have different opinions on what constitutes a "food taboo". Food taboos for certain members of the society and to highlight special events Any interpretation of food taboos has to consider the region they operate in, the era or circumstances they came into existence, or, in other words, the food history of a people [ 7 , 8 , 41 , 42 ].

    Food taboos to protect human health When a particular taboo is regarded as God-given, as a form of instruction or command from the "Supreme" and thus play a role in the cultural or religious belief system [ 14 ], then it is usually seen as part of a 'package' to protect the believers, to safeguard them against evil [ 20 - 23 ].

    Food taboos during pregnancy and food changes over the course of the menstrual cycle Declaring certain foods taboo because they are thought to make a person sick, is also the basis for the many food taboos affecting pregnant women. Food taboos as an ecological necessity to protect the resource As hinted upon earlier and demonstrated in several studies, most notably [ 14 - 19 ], food taboos frequently seem to have an ecological background, which according to Harris [ 7 ] is based on utilitarian principles.

    What is Kosher?

    Food taboos in order to monopolize a resource Declaring a food item taboo for one section of the population, can of course, lead to a monopoly of the food in question by the remainder of the population [ 7 ]. Food taboos as an expression of empathy Empathy, i. Food taboos as a factor in group-cohesion and group-identity Finally, it ought to be mentioned that any food taboo, acknowledged by a particular group of people as part of its ways, aids in the cohesion of this group, helps that group stand out amongst others, assists that group to maintain its identity and creates a feeling of "belonging".

    Background

    Conclusion In our increasingly international world, it is essential that we know and understand food taboos of societies other than and in addition to our own. Competing interests The author declares that he has no competing interests. Author's contributions The single author of this paper VBM-R is responsible for every aspect of the research, the conclusions, and the writing of the paper.

    Acknowledgements The author wishes to thank his companions, helpers, guides, and informants in the field as well as Dr. References May RM. Theoretical Ecology. Oxford, Blackwell; San Francisco, Benjamin Cummings; Changes in food preferences during aging. Ann Nutr Metab.

    The diverse uses of insects in traditional societies. Zum Thema Nahrungs-Tabus. Hunter-gatherers of the New World. Am Scient. Good to eat — Riddles of food and culture. New York, Simon and Schuster; Food and evolution — Toward a theory of human food habits. Philadelphia, Temple University Press; The anthropology of food and eating. Annu Rev Anthropol. Eat not this flesh: food avoidances from prehistory to the present. Madison, University of Wisconsin Press; Taboos and social order.

    The socio-anthropological deciphering of interdictions.


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